Archive for January, 2010

Today is NFL Championship Sunday and I had to rearrange my work schedule so I can sit on my couch and watch the AFC and NFC Championship games like most football fans. Instead of working my Sunday gig in the afternoon, I did the early morning (12am-8am)…..that gives me plenty of time to put the iPod on and listen to some Metal! Here’s what I listened to…..

Brainstorm – Memorial Roots (2010): The new Brainstorm was released everywhere but the U.S. in late 2009 so I was lucky to get a digital promo from AFM Records so I could give this a listen and review. I made this my Album of the Month and I like this new record better than 2007′s DOWNBURST.

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009): I bought this late in 2009 and it’s been in my playlist every since. It’s got some great songs, most about drinking! Favorite song here is ‘Jack It Up’.

Circus 51 – s/t (2009): A six song independent release from Amarillo, Texas. I wanted to give this an extra spin because I listened to it a few times on the stereo and I noticed the production was a little “muddy”, I figured that headphones might clear some stuff up. The songs are there but the production lacks.

Epica – Design Your Universe (2009): I missed this album in 2009 but picked it up last week. This was my first listen and my first impression is a good one…..Simone Simons has a great voice and there is a ton of orchestration making the music very layered. This one needs a lot more time!

UZI – Madhouse (2009): Eonian Records keeps releasing great long lost ’80s gems and MADHOUSE keeps getting better with every listen. Makes you wonder how/why UZI wasn’t signed back in the ’80s.

Motley Crue – Dr. Feelgood (1989): Went with a classic to end my shift and I wanted to hear some Crue. This album is just so good, the Crue was at the top of their game and the biggest band around back then. Favorite track – ‘Without You’.

From the Scorpions official website:

Important Message to our Fans

It was always our pleasure, our purpose in life, our passion and we were fortunate enough to make music for you – whether it was live on stage or in the studio, creating new songs.

While we were working on our album these past few months, we could literally feel how powerful and creative our work was – and how much fun we were still having, in the process. But there was also something else: We want to end the Scorpion’s extraordinary career on a high note. We are extremely grateful for the fact that we still have the same passion for music we’ve always had since the beginning. This is why, especially now, we agree we have reached the end of the road. We finish our career with an album we consider to be one of the best we have ever recorded and with a tour that will start in our home country Germany and take us to five different continents over the next few years.

We want you, our fans, to be the first to know about this. Thank you for your never-ending support throughout the years!

We uploaded the very first snippets from our new album for you.

And now… let’s get the party started and get ready for a “Sting in the Tail”!

See you on the world tour,

Yours,

Scorpions

(STING IN THE TAIL release date is March 19, 2010)

————————————————————————-

This has to be some of the worst news I’ve heard this year! I want the Scorpions to continue, not end their career! I grew up with the band and they have been one of my favorites since I was a kid. I can’t believe this is happening especially after the huge success that HUMANITY HOUR 1 (2007) had and all the critical acclaim the band received…..I figured the band was stronger than ever. I guess I will have to buy my last new Scorpions record in March and see them on tour for the final time this year.

– Steve

FarCry – High Gear (2009, Kivel Records)

  1. Love Won’t Wait
  2. Fine Line
  3. Have It All
  4. Heaven
  5. Nowhere Fast
  6. Out Of Reach
  7. Kick Me Down
  8. She’s Crazy
  9. The Same Mistake
  10. Talk To Me
  11. Those Were The Days

Band Lineup:
Mark Giovi – Lead Vocals
Pete Fry – Guitars & Vocals
Chris Ryan – Drums
John Leonardis – Bass & Vocals

Producer: Ty Sims

Country: USA

Total Time = 47:01

FarCry
FarCry MySpace page
Kivel Records

HIGH GEAR is the debut by American Melodic Rock band FarCry and it turned out to be one of the biggest surprises of 2009. I started to hear some buzz about a new band on Kivel Records over the summer but I didn’t get around to checking out the band until October. Once I heard a few songs I ordered the album immeadiately and HIGH GEAR has been in my daily playlist ever since.

The overall sound is a combination of AOR, Melodic Rock and Hard Rock that reminds me of bands like Def Leppard, Danger Danger, Poison, Bon Jovi and Firehouse in their ’80s prime. You could also probably add some Journey and Survivor in their more for the AOR side of things, that’s not a bad combination at all. The music is full of memorable hooks and great guitar work and the lead vocals and harmonies are superb, it’s music like this that really sticks with you and makes you come back for more. Every song on the album has that hook that gets you singing along, playing some air guitar and pounding out the beat with your hands. The overall sound may seem a little dated, it has that specific ’80s production that gives the music that BIG sound, but it’s very refreshing to hear a band come out and play really good music with solid musicianship and good songwriting.

Opening song ‘Love Won’t Wait’ starts the album off with an uptempo ’80s Hard Rock style with big guitars and big harmonies and that was enough for me to hear, I immeadiately knew I would like this album a lot. ‘Fine Line’ follows and takes a mid-tempo pace but remains powerful with soaring vocals, big harmonies and excellent guitar. You could probably call this a ballad type of song but it has this power to it that keeps it heavy while it maintains it’s melody. The music gets a heavier edge to it with the guitar crunch of ‘Have It All’, another rocker that isn’t as fast as ‘Love Won’t Wait’ but faster than ‘Fine Line’. The guitar on ‘Have It All’ is excellent, as it is on all of HIGH GEAR, and the solo is one of the best I’ve heard in 2009. It brings a smile to my face to hear a band take the time to get a guitar solo perfect, it adds so much to the song. ‘Heaven’ is the first proper ballad and, if this was 20 years ago, FarCry would have a Top 10 hit. The harmonies on the chorus are infectiously perfect and the band channels the best of Extreme, Firehouse, Saigon Kick and Tyketto…..this is definitely one of the best songs on the album.

The tempo picks up to all out Hard Rock again with ‘Nowhere Fast’. Turns out that this song is a cover song written by Jim Steinman and performed originally by Fire Inc. in 1984 but more famously covered by Steinman’s partner Meat Loaf in 1985 on the BAD ATTITUDE album. Now I had no idea that this was a cover so it became one of my favorites on the album and, having never heard the Fire Inc. and Meat Loaf versions, I have nothing to compare it to. Therefore, I cannot disqualify this song based on it’s cover song designation…..plus, it really kicks ass! ‘Out Of Reach’ reminds me of Poison when Bret Michaels tries to do that low Country vocal. It’s another catchy song that grabs your ear and the solo is another triumph but what I like most is that acoustic guitar base…..I’m always a sucker for acoustic based songs! The vocals and harmonies are perfectly done here again, the band really hits on all cylinders on the entire album. That Poison vibe makes it’s second impression on ‘Kick Me Down’ and is that some cowbell I hear? The track is more uptempo Melodic Rock, and it’s good, but this would be the first song that maybe falls a notch below the rest…..an “I’ve heard that already” feeling. That feeling goes away with the Enuff Z’nuff sounding ‘She’s Crazy’. I swear when I heard the opening vocal lines of the song I thought that Donnie Vie had a guest vocal but it’s all Mark Giovi, a guy that’s turning into one of my favorite singers of recent memory. The similarities with Enuff Z’nuff goes away for a tougher sound on the bridge and chorus but it’s all ’80s Hard Rock complete with another infectious solo from Pete Fry. ‘She’s Crazy’ is one of my favorites from the album.

Ballad #2 comes around with the soft starting ‘The Same Mistake’ but the song moves into a slightly harder edge to it. This song is another one that I get that “I’ve heard it before” feeling with but it’s still a solid song, just a notch below the rest of the album. ‘Talk To Me’ starts off with a quick guitar line that reminds me of part of Van Halen’s ‘Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’ but it’s gone pretty quick. This is another uptempo melodic track that gets it’s edge from the guitar and the harmonies but…..it turns out this is a cover. Now usually I take off major points for a cover song and having two on an album is going in a Great White or Krokus direction! I didn’t know that ‘Talk To Me’ was originally recorded in 1998 by a Norwegian AOR/Melodic Rock band Hush so I can’t really disqualify this song either because I’ve never heard the original and FarCry puts on another solid performance. What bothers me though is that it’s obvious FarCry is talented and can write great songs so I hope that this isn’t a trend the band repeats when their second record comes out. Ending the album is another uptempo ’80s party rocker ‘Those Were The Days’, another song with a memorable chorus and big catchy harmonies to go along with some great axe work. If this were back in the day, I could easily see this song as one of those “parking lot” tunes that we used to blast out on car stereos and boomboxes.

Bottom Line:
FarCry came out of nowhere and easily became one of my favorite new bands and HIGH GEAR became one of my favorite albums of the year. All the songs are top quality and they have all the signature ’80s qualities I grew up on: soaring vocals, big harmonies, guitar heroics and solid songwriting with a ton of memorable hooks. If this debut album came out 20-25 years ago then FarCry would be one of the big success stories from the ’80s. The bottom line is that this is perfect AOR/Melodic Rock that sounds a bit dated but is also refreshing to hear singers sing and musicians play. Normally I would kill this band/album for the 2 cover songs but they are great tunes and the band does them well…..I actually like them better then a couple of the originals on this album! HIGH GEAR is still in my daily playlist and it made #11 on my Top 40 Albums of 2009. FarCry has released an awesome debut album, I can’t wait to hear what they do for a follow-up!

Favorite Songs:
‘Love Won’t Wait’, ‘Heaven’, ‘She’s Crazy’, ‘Those Were The Days’, ‘Nowhere Fast’

From Bravewords.com:

Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records has set an April 20th release date for Infestation, the new album from Californian hard rock legends RATT. Songtitles set to appear on the CD include ‘Look Out Below’, ‘A Little Too Much’, ‘Garden Of Eden’ and the album’s first single, ‘Best Of Me’.

Singer Stephen Pearcy told BraveWords.com recently that “the new record is fucking great, best yet. Sounds like (Out Of The) Cellar meets Invasion (Of Your Privacy)!”

It’s been ten years since Ratt’s last studio album and the band will soon announce dates for their World Tour 2010.

Infestation was produced by Michael “Elvis” Baskette, who’s credits include PUDDLE OF MUD, CHEVELLE, SALIVA, LIMP BIZKIT, ALTER BRIDGE, THREE DAYS GRACE.

Ratt’s current line-up features: Stephen Pearcy on vocals, Warren DeMartini on lead and rhythm guitar, Carlos Cavazo (ex-QUIET RIOT) on lead and rhythm guitar, Robbie Crane on bass and Bobby Blotzer on drums.

I waited until I couldn’t wait any longer…..I finally went out and spent the $90 in gift cards to the local record store that I received for Xmas. Do you know how hard it is to actually NOT go out and spend them right away? Usually, my gift cards are spent within a couple of days but I decided to wait, get my want list together and let the stores’ inventories re-stock.

Being a lifelong Rhode Island native means that any trip longer than 20 mins is a “day out”. There are two local Newbury Comics stores near my house: the one 5 mins up the road in North Attleboro, MA and the one 20 mins away in Warwick, RI. Like I said, for most Rhode Islanders, a 20 minute drive I way too long so I made sure that there were errands to run in that area and my wife and kids came along for the “day out”. I decided to go to the store in Warwick because I know the inventory well in North Attleboro and the Warwick store always seems to have those extra special releases that I’m looking for.

Newbury Comics

W.E.T. – s/t (2009) – $17: Finally! After weeks of waiting and trying desperately to order online, I finally acquired the debut from W.E.T.! I had tried four times to order it from a certain online retailer but the order kept getting cancelled due to the CD selling out. I went straight to the ‘W’ section and found this right away for the same price that was online. I saw this make a bunch of year end lists and MelodicRock.com gave this a perfect 100 score on their review so this was a very important album to pick up. Add in the Jeff Scott Soto factor and it was a must buy!

W.A.S.P. – Babylon (2009) – $16: Another 2009 release that I missed out on because it was out of stock everytime I ordered it online. BABYLON and W.E.T. were always in the same order that kept getting cancelled by my favorite online rock shop. I saw this record make a lot of Top 10 lists at the end of the year and it was definitely a must have. I’ve been a W.A.S.P. fan since the first record, actually before that when I acquired the ‘Animal’ single as an import, and I always look forward to a new W.A.S.P. record. Price wasn’t bad here, only a dollar more from the store I kept trying to order from and $5 less than NEH Records.

House Of Lords – Cartesian Dreams (2009) – $16: I completely missed this album in 2009, I didn’t even realize House Of Lords was releasing a new album! I go back to 1988 & 1990 with the band’s debut and SAHARA but I haven’t really kept up with the band until the last couple of albums. I was impressed with what I heard on WORLD UPSIDE DOWN (2006) and COME TO MY KINGDOM (2008) and this also made a lot of year end lists.

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off (2009) – $10: Taking a chance on a band that i have never heard before but seems to be on the rise. When I read all the Best of 2009 lists, this CD ended up being on quite a few, and it has been highly recommended to me by more than a few people. Sleaze Glam here so it’s music I like but I hope the band is not the usual L.A. Guns/Guns ‘N Roses/Faster Pussycat clone. This was the last CD I found and the price was right for taking a chance.

Steel Panther – Feel The Steel (2009) – $12: Danger Kitty…..Metal Shop…..Metal Skool…..now it’s Steel Panther! I didn’t bother buying this when it came out because the import price was way too high but I saw this finally got a U.S. release and the price today was more than half than the import. I know there are a few different pressing of this, my copy only has 11 songs…..I’ve seen a 12 song pressing and a 14 track issue.

Epica – Design Your Universe (2009) – $12: Wanted to buy it and should have bought it when it was released but for some reason I passed. I like epica a lot so I’m not sure why I passed on this before but, when I saw the sale sticker still on it, I couldn’t pass it up this time around. The CD rang up regular price ($16) when they scanned it at the register but that old sale tag saved me $4. It always pays to get the sale price…..even if your weeks after the sale!

Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock ‘N Roll (2009) – $7 used: I had $90 in gift cards and I had two CDs in my hand: Saga – The Human Condition (2009) and this one. Both CDs were used and both were $7…..making my overall total $90. I have the Saga album already, I received a promo from the label but it’s not an official pressing and I like the real CD with the booklet and packaging, etc…..but I passed. I found this copy of LET’S ROCK ‘N ROLL and it was the only used one in a bunch of regularly priced copies at $15 each. I couldn’t pass up the price and the new music and I’ve passed on this album so many times that I figured it was finally time to grab it.

Total = $90 (- $90 gift cards) = $0

Total (year) = $0

Total CDs (year) = 7

WANTED

Lynyrd Skynyrd – God & Guns (2009)

I love Southern Rock. When I was a kid I used to listen to FM Rock radio all the time and bands like The Allman Brothers, .38 Special, Black Oak Arkansas and Lynyrd Skynyrd were always in rotation. In the end, it’s all Classic Rock and great music. I haven’t bought a new Lynyrd Skynyrd album since 1998 when I first got the Internet and I found the band’s then current album, TWENTY (1997), used at my favorite record store. GOD & GUNS is the band’s 4th album since then and for some reason I wanted this album really bad. I read a review on a Southern Rock website and it gave the album high praise so that caught my eye but then I received an email from Roadrunner Records about the limited edition 2 CD set…..nothing gets my collecting genes going than the words “limited edition”! The bonus CD has three new songs that are not included on the standard edition fo the album and three live songs for a few dollars more. GOD & GUNS was released in July 2009 and I didn’t get it when it was on sale and after a couple months I basically forgot about this album. Then I read a year end best of list on a website and it had this album #1…..that’s when this moved up on the want list.

From Bravewords.com:

On February 26th, Ear Music will release a triple disc (two CDs and one DVD) set from SAVATAGE – Still The Orchestra Plays – Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2.

The two CDs feature 20 previously released songs as well as three new tracks, recorded last year by Jon Oliva.

The tracklisting is as follows:

CD1: Greatest Hits Vol.1
‘Power Of The Night’
‘Hall Of The Mountain King’
’24 Hours Ago’
‘Legions’
‘Gutter Ballet’
‘Summers Rain’
‘When The Crowds Are Gone’
‘Ghost In The Ruins’
‘If I Go Away’
‘NYC Don‘t Mean Nothing’
‘Edge Of Thorns’
‘All That I Bleed’

CD2: Greatest Hits Vol.2
‘Handful Of Rain’
‘Chance’
‘One Child’
‘I Am’
‘Anymore’
‘Hourglass’
‘The Wake Of Magellan’
‘Morphine Child’
Bonus tracks (recorded by Jon Oliva in 2009):
‘Anymore’ (acoustic)
‘Not What You See’ (acoustic)
‘Out On The Streets’ (acoustic)

DVD – Japan Live ‘94
‘Taunting Cobras’
‘Edge Of Thorns’
‘Chance’
‘Conversation Piece’
‘Nothing Going On’
‘He Carves His Stone’
‘Jesus Saves’
‘Watching You Fall’
‘Castles Burning’
‘All That I Bleed’
‘Stare Into The Sun’
‘Damien’
‘Handful Of Rain’
‘Sirens’
‘Gutter Ballet’
‘Hall Of The Mountain King’

There’s a CBS TV show called I Get That A Lot and it’s basically like a Candid Camera type of show with well-known celebrities posing as ordinary people at work. I’m not a big TV guy so I have never seen it but when I saw some news that KISS’ Gene Simmons was going to be on it, I wanted to watch it. Of course I forgot to DVR it! The episode aired on Wednesday 1/6/2010, and thanks to the power of Youtube, here is the clip…..

WANTED

Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down (2009)

I know a lot of people see the name Foreigner and all they think of is ballads like ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ and ‘Waiting For A Girl Like You’ but back in the late ’70s/early ’80s the band put out some seriously crunching Arena Rock. I’m not afraid to admit that I like Classic Rock bands like Styx, Journey, REO Speedwagon and Foreigner…..they were staples on FM radio when I was a kid. I caught Foreigner in concert opening for Def Leppard & Styx back in August 2007 and they were really great live. Lou Gramm has been gone for a few years and founding member Lou Gramm enlisted new singer Kelly Hansen (former Hurricane vocalist) and he really added new life to a lot of old classics. That brings us to 2009 and Foreigner signed an exclusive deal with retail giant Wal-Mart to release their latest album, CAN’T SLOW DOWN. Just like The Eagles, KISS, Journey and AC/DC, Foreigner added 2 bonus discs to the new album: a bonus CD of re-recorded hits and a live DVD. I have passed on this CD a number of times despite all the rave reviews I read online. I hate going into Wal-Mart for anything, 3 out of the last 4 times were to pick up a CD, the 4th to return something right after Christmas. The price is right ($14), the package is a great deal for the price and the reviews all say it’s a great record but I just haven’t gotten around to getting it. The album is readily available at any Wal-Mart so I’m going to have to go into one of them soon and pick this CD up.

From Bravewords.com:

The North American release date for former KISS guitarist BRUCE KULICK’s new solo album, BK3, has been been bumped up to February 2nd via Fanboy/Rocket Science Ventures. Frontier’s Records will still issue the album in Europe on January 29th.

If you ever play Six Degrees of Bruce Kulick, the former KISS/current GRAND FUNK RAILROAD guitarist’s résumé will keep you happily busy for hours. Having been tapped by artists as diverse as MEAT LOAF and KANYE WEST, the veteran axeman’s boundless creative energy permeates his third solo LP, BK3.

In the works for nearly six years and produced by Jeremy Rubolino, BK3 delivers explosive hard rock arrangements and addictive pop melodies that honor both Kulick’s singular past and bright future. And then there’s the jaw-dropping guest list, boasting members of KISS, THE KNACK, TOTO, MÖTLEY CRÜE and more.

“Bruce was to KISS what Ronnie Wood is to the Stones,” says Rocket Science GM & Fanboy Enterprises A&R executive Ken Gullic. “The new guy to one generation, and the long standing stable horse to another.”

After getting his solo feet wet with 2001’s Audio Dog and 2003’s Transformer, Kulick – the often unheralded driving force on 12 years of classic KISS records, from 1984’s Animalize to 1992’s Revenge – assembled his own rock ‘n’ roll dream team. The roster: KISS icon GENE SIMMONS and up-and-coming son Nick (each vocally appearing separately), longtime friend John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Kulick’s own UNION), The Knack mainman Doug Fieger, Toto axe authoritarian Steve Lukather, EDGUY power metal stalwart Tobias Sammet and even current KISS drummer Eric Singer.

“Many albums lack cohesion with different vocalists, but I know that my guitar playing is the glue on BK3,” Kulick says. “There was the clear goal of making absolutely the best record that I could put together. I feel like this is my Revenge.”

BK3 tracklisting:
‘Fate’
‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ (featuring Gene Simmons)
‘No Friend Of Mine’ (featuring John Corabi)
‘Hand Of The King’ (featuring Nick Simmons)
‘I’ll Survive’
‘Dirty Girl’ (featuring Doug Fieger)
‘Final Mile’
‘I’m The Animal’ (featuring Tobias Sammet, Eric Singer)
‘And I Know’
‘Between The Lines’ (featuring Steve Lukather)
‘Life’
‘Skydome’ (exclusive bonus track for Europe, from the Bruce Kulick CD Audiodog)

From Bravewords.com:

Sweden’s DREAM EVIL have revealed the artwork and tracklisting for their new studio album, In The Night.

In The Night was once again produced at Sweden’s Studio Fredman (DIMMU BORGIR, IN FLAMES, HAMMERFALL, etc.), which is owned by Dream Evil axeman Fredrik Nordström, and strikes back with the power of pure steel via Century Media Records .

Official worldwide release dates:
Sweden: January 20th
Germany / Austria / Switzerland / Italy: January 22nd
Benelux / France / Greece / Denmark / Norway / Portugal / Rest Of Europe: January 25th
North America / Spain: January 26th
Finland / Hungary: January 27th
UK: February 1st
North America: January 26th

The album’s artwork was created by Gustavo Sazes (ARCH ENEMY, FIREWIND, KRISIUN, etc.) and the album will be also available as a classy limited edition Mediabook-CD with alternative artwork (see image at left, click to enlarge), expanded booklet and including the special audio bonus tracks ‘Good Nightmare’ and ‘The Return’ as well as an exclusive patch.

In The Night tracklisting:
‘Immortal’
‘In The Night’
‘Bang Your Head’
‘See The Light’
‘Electric’
‘Frostbite’
‘On The Wind’
‘The Ballad’
‘In The Fires Of The Sun’
Mean Machine’
‘Kill, Burn, Be Evil’
‘The Unchosen One’

‘Good Nightmare’ (limited edition bonus track)
‘The Return’ (limited edition bonus track)

From Bravewords.com:

BLAZE BAYLEY’s second studio album, Promise And Terror, will be released on Blaze Bayley Recordings on February 1st and distributed by Plastic Head.

Promise And Terror is available to pre-order from Bayley’s official website only until January 18th, with all pre-orders signed by the band.

The accompanying World tour kicks off at JB’s in Dudley, UK on February 6th. European & South American tour dates have now been confirmed and further dates and countries will be announced shortly.

Promise And Terror tracklisting:

‘Watching The Night Sky’
‘Madness And Sorrow’
’1633′
‘God Of Speed’
‘City Of Bones’
‘Faceless’
‘Time To Dare’
‘Surrounded By Sadness’
‘The Trace Of Things That Have No Words’
‘Letting Go Of The World’
‘Comfortable In Darkness’